Anatomy of an Estate Sale

July 2004, Mrs. C. passes in her sleep after watching “Everybody Loves Raymond”, she was 99 years old. Her son, Andre is a collector of antiques as was his mother. Andre’s brother Beryl is a minimalist and certainly not a collector. Their sister, Colleen, loves jewelry and lives 3000 miles away. Andre was named the trustee and executor for the C. Family’s estate. This was the home his family had lived in for 50 years; there was a lot of memories and history here. Andre wanted everything handled right.

The estate was to be divided by the three children. First, Andre called a local auction house who advertised in the Sunday Times. Their representative arrived, opened drawers and closets, made notes, spoke of the actual auction, which would take place 120 days from this day, monies would be dispersed 90 days after that, he is also presented with a bundle of papers: CONTRACTS, INSURANCE, STORAGE, MOVING VAN, LABOR, SELLERS PREMIUM, LAWYER FEES, 40% COMMISSION…blah, blah, blah…it all seemed so…so cold and clinical - and so expensive! He was overwhelmed. Andre felt the situation needed more compassion and understanding. After all, this was his mother’s home, these were the items he grew up with. Luckily a friend told him about Antiques and Heirlooms.

He called ANTIQUESANDHEIRLOOMS.COM for advice. He spoke of several items he wanted to keep and jewelry his sister wanted to keep; he said his brother Beryl had shown no interest in any specific items. The home was located in a lovely suburb of Los Angeles and would lend itself wonderfully to an Estate Sale. The neighbors had also contacted him and pondered as to the fate of the household, and asked if they would be able to purchase a little memento of their dear neighbor and friend Mrs. C. He wondered how he could determine the price of the jewelry his sister was interested in and if it would be fair to his brother who didn’t want anything from the home. These were all questions Andre needed answered. But they were not decisions he wished to make on his own.

All his questions were addressed; we appraised all the items family members wanted to keep and priced all items that the neighbors were interested in, which took away the awkwardness. All personal papers and photos were carefully placed for safety. Hundreds of books had to be gone through…3 first editions were discovered, one adding several hundred dollars to the estate’s value! All paintings and fine art were researched and priced, furniture and silver were polished and minor repairs were handled. Linens were pressed, even the outdoor furniture and potted plants were priced. The less expensive items were placed in a garage sale, there was something for every level of buyer. The sale was advertised three weeks after the initial meeting. It was held for two weekends. The heirs were welcome to participate in the sale. There was a preview sale for close friends, family and neighbors, who were delighted not to have to fight crowds and happy to have the benefit of early selection. Many of the neighbors actually met their neighbors face to face for the first time, having only waved to one another in the past. It turned into quite a social event.

Preview invitations went out to ANTIQUESANDHEIRLOOMS.COM special customers and dealers along with announcements of the sale to the public…hundreds of people came and bought and it was a great success. At the end there are always leftover goods, so wholesale dealers were brought in, and they bought everything that was not sold. The final items were priced low, but it was all sold. Andre, Beryl and Colleen were very pleased; the money was significantly more than they had expected. It was divided, Andre had the items he wanted to keep and Colleen was thrilled with the jewelry, Beryl got a few extra dollars. They all felt it to be quite equitable and very professional. ANTIQUESANDHEIRLOOMS.COM handled everything and emptied the house to the bare walls and all for 30% total! No hidden charges, no additional fees. There was even a customer interested in purchasing the house.

Happily this is a rather typical story from the annals of Antiques and Heirlooms. Perhaps you have heard some of the less happy stories from people who have either tried to liquidate an estate on their own or have arranged an auction, or tried to sell everything at neighborhood “estate sales.” Do yourself a huge favor. At a time of inevitable stress and tension, call us for help. We promise you will be glad you did.

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